Feeling a little nervous about lack of qualified candidates

49 Replies

Thanks everyone! So since posting on Facebook Marketplace my phone and email has been blowing up. I've also slashed the requirements listed on my website and re-formatted it in hopes that it's not so intimidating anymore. 

We've had 3 viewings today and have several others scheduled throughout the week. They all said they were going to apply (minus one who unfortunately doesn't have a SS or verifiable income) so it's something! Thanks for all the tips :) 

You listed it November 7th and are concerned that you haven't found someone?

I can't attest to the price/area but one thing that hasn't been mentioned is the timing of your listing.  Not many people like to move in the winter in MN and they especially don't like to move during the holidays.  This will make finding a November/December renter more difficult.  In my experience the winter in general seems to bring less qualified and more desperate candidates.    

As mentioned by @Matt Higgins I have also done well with people who have poor credit.  I don't search for poor credit however the families I have had luck with had recently been through foreclosure, had kids they wanted to keep in the district, and stayed until they were able to purchase again.  Credit is one area I am not as concerned about as long as it can be explained.  However I will not stick my neck out for people involved in theft or other malicious crimes.

@Kelly Conrad I'll tell you right now that it is not your qualification list. Your qualifications are good as is...in fact I'd add a credit score qualification too. The problem is the time of the year...Usually no one but bad tenants are looking for a place right now, because all of the responsible ones found rentals in spring/summer. You may have to just accept the BEST tenant out of all the ones that are applying right now, make them sign a 6 Mo lease, and try to re rent it in the spring. Or if the tenant you chose ends up being a good tenant... ask him to sign a year lease when the 6 mo run out.

I didn't see the original requirements list, but the current one looks fine.  Very similar to mine.

What about price?  That's often a key factor.  If you're at or a little below the going rate you'll get plenty of applicants (provided they exist).  If you're even a little above, your pool will drop.  Don't fall into the "I'll price it high to get a good candidate".  It works just the opposite.  A high price limits your pool to folks who can't find anywhere else and will put up with your high price.  Do a careful survey of prices and amenities at your competitors.

For showings, I only show once a week and tell everyone the same time.  Get them to fill out an application on the spot.  Much more likely to get an application than handing one out and letting them get it back to you.

Get it priced right and you will get a good applicant.  Then a FULL months rent and FULL security deposit in cash or equivalent to move in.  Sign the lease, get the money and hand over the keys all at the same time.  Prorate the first full month if they move in mid-month.

@Jon Holdman I might have to try and get them to fill them out on the spot. I haven't had a lack of interest or showings, its the complete disconnect of at the showing them saying, "I love this place, I want to apply" and then they never apply...I send a follow up message saying thank you and send them the link to my application on my website, but then nothing happens. I'm not sure why there is so much interest and people saying they are going to apply, and then don't...

That's why you pester them to fill out an application right on the spot.  My experience has been the same as yours.   I have had applicants take an application and bring it back later, but its rare.  If they're really interested, they will fill it out.

Ask them "What else are you looking at?"  "What are you seeing out there?"  Try to get some feedback.  A question like "what do you like" or "what don't you like" doesn't get good feedback because they don't want to hurt your feelings.  But if you ask about other properties, they may give you hints.  And ask them flat out "what's keeping you from filling out an application" you may get some feedback, too.

Its funny you say the fee is high, apparently some local landlords around said to charge $75 😳.  The people who viewed yesterday who loved it said they actually like the neighborhood we’re in, and they said they were going to apply today 🤞🤞 I like Jon’s idea of bringing the applications with, I just was hoping that having it online and being able to pay online would be enticing since I’d get it immediately and could put in for a background check right away. I know I also don’t usually have all my info with me when I tour places 😕 we’ll see what happens tonight 

@Kelly Conrad   Around me $50 is a lot.  Most charge in the $30-40 range.  I personally use a two step application. First step is I use Cozy.co for the basic application, without credit and background checks. I do not charge for this.  This allows me to review the basic applications and see if we are interested.   The second step is once we are comfortable with an applicant, we have them pay for the background & credit check, again thru Cozy.co.  The tenants pay for that directly to Cozy.co and its $40 for both.  If everything checks out, then we agree to rent the apartment and collect the deposit.

I agree with others that its a bad time a year to find good tenants.  We are having the same issue right now with a new construction duplex.  I can usually have tenants selected for my units in less than two weeks. Its been almost 4 weeks since we started to advertise, and we are only close to selecting tenants for one of the units. 

@Kelly Conrad

I know you've gotten a lot of feedback, so try and endure one more perspective.  I don't think November is an issue for finding tenants.  I also advise against going for tenants with lower credit scores, unless you are armed with the ability to ask for a double damage deposit.  

What is hurting you, I feel, is your first photo of your downstairs apartment.  It looks like a drab, gray sheet strung across a window.  The last photo is a picture  of a not good looking window.  

Also, we also design our units with the female in mind.  We make the kitchen and bathroom really shine.  Your photo in the bathroom of the shower only, omits that there is a tub.  If you are cramped taking the photo, it shows up in the photo. 

Have a friend who is a pro come in and take the photos.  They will have the ability to make the rooms look bigger.

Also, I have a property management company in town help find tenants.  I don't personally like to take apps and show the units.  So I pay someone else to do it.  I have a name and number for you if you are interested.  It will cost you one month rent, but they are really good at finding tenants.

@Kelly Conrad   I'll add +1 for great luck with tenants that have a lower credit score. Unfortunately many of those with "better" credit are starting to qualify for loans again

You'll have to research this with tenantcloud, but i believe some of the rent management software companies that processes rent payments report to credit bureaus. Could be another good way to attract tenants if that is something your management company already does - renting with Conrad Rentals helps build your credit!

@Kelly Conrad if it makes you feel any better, I've had a unit that's a 5 BR 2BA in South Minneapolis listed since the beginning of October and still haven't found anyone. I think its a tough market right now. Feedback from showings has been that the rent is right and the unit is nice, there just is just not enough demand. 

I just posted earlier today on Facebook Marketplace and have had a few inquiries, but no showings scheduled yet from that listing.  Good luck in getting your place rented!


I might have to try and get them to fill them out on the spot. I haven't had a lack of interest or showings, its the complete disconnect of at the showing them saying, "I love this place, I want to apply" and then they never apply...I send a follow up message saying thank you and send them the link to my application on my website, but then nothing happens. I'm not sure why there is so much interest and people saying they are going to apply, and then don't...

 Exactly my experience with a house I was trying to rent out last summer! When I got started in real estate I decided to use property managers, but then when I finished this one rehab I thought "I am going to try to rent it out myself, I have read enough on BP that I know how to advertise, screen tenants, etc." Well, it was the worst couple of months in my (short) real estate career!!! People were SUCH FLAKES. They would make appointments, confirm and then not show up. They would come and be all Ooohs and Aaahs about the house, swear they would apply as soon as they got home (I had an online application-- I finally made a paper one and brought it with me to showings), fill out the application but then not pay for the (online) background check.... The only thing I can say is that, with Zillow, Craigslist, FB Marketplace, etc, people find a lot of places to check out and they don't want the awkwardness of saying "We'll decide later whether to apply or not", so they promise to apply and then don't. And stop replying to e-mails or texts. 

I finally just found a PM to take over, and he had someone lined up in two weeks. She is probably a little different profile than I would have chosen, but she can pay and I didn't have to lift a finger to find her! That experience taught me not to begrudge PM's the 10% of rents, as I am sure they deal with lots of flakes.

Do you have a yard sign out?  I think this is one of the best ways to get tenants.  If they're driving around looking for a place then they already want that neighborhood.  Or, someone in the neighborhood see the sign and tells their friend.

This ALWAYS comes down to price.  Maybe your markets are getting slow.  Around here, if the tenant had a truck and the neighbors saw them moving stuff out, I'd be getting calls.  But if you're had a unit empty for two months, @Peter Ulstad , its overpriced.  I guarantee if you offered it for $100 you'd have a line out the door.  Obviously unrealistic, but there is some price lower than what you're asking that will get you a GOOD tenant quickly.  You've already lost two months rent.

Yea that looks terrifying for a tenant.

If you pare down that and still aren’t getting applications then it’s too expensive.

I just put we run credit and background check on my listings. I posted one yesterday in Louisville and have had 20+ inquiries already. I encouraged all of them to come to our Wednesday showing to create urgency. If the price is right and the listing is clear you should have plenty of interest. There’s a lack of affordable and comfortable housing available in most places.

I didn't read every single reply, but there's absolutely nothing wrong with your list of qualifications (as read Nov 21st evening - in case you updated them), I would also add credit score to the list. The problem could be location; rent amount, and most definitely time of the year. To find a tenant this time of the year, you'd need to lower your price, and maybe agree to a month-to-month or a 6 month lease. Then in spring/summer increase rent.

Now that I found the listing itself - the property needs some work... someone with a good job, high credit score, good income etc would like an updated, clean, functional property. There's no dishwasher, old stove, chipping paint on radiators, broken tile in the bathroom etc. I would take it off the market, fix it up, then hire a professional photographer to take new pictures. In current condition the property will be attracting not so great tenants, or no tenants at all (if price is high for them, because better tenants will choose updated property instead). 

Originally posted by @Pavel U. :

Now that I found the listing itself - the property needs some work... someone with a good job, high credit score, good income etc would like an updated, clean, functional property. There's no dishwasher, old stove, chipping paint on radiators, broken tile in the bathroom etc. I would take it off the market, fix it up, then hire a professional photographer to take new pictures. In current condition the property will be attracting not so great tenants, or no tenants at all (if price is high for them, because better tenants will choose updated property instead). 

I didn't want to mention condition because I was unsure of the condition of the other properties in the area but I agree 100% with this. I personally wouldn't be trying to rent the property in this condition.  There are several flaws that stand out in the pictures and these are typically a lot more noticeable in person.  A little work on this property would go a long way in making this house more appealing to a renter.  Someone who rents it in this condition is likely settling or looking for any place to rent. 

@Carrie A.

I had used Mysmartmove.com from Transunion, it was endorsed on Biggerpockets and it was a pretty easy set up. They give you credit score, eviction, & criminal. The potential tenant don't even have to give you their SSN, all you need is their e-mail address. You give mysmartmove.com the tenant's email address and they send a link to the tenant and the tenant would fill out their information. Within 24 hours the background is sent to you, they suggest to you if you should accept or decline. I love that part so then it doesn't seem as if you are declining them but the 3rd party is. The only fault I found is that each potential tenant MUST have their OWN e-mail address. So if its a couple that uses the same e-mail address, the other spouse must now set up their own. Mysmartmove.com would think the e-mail address is the same person and would give you 2 or more information on the same exact person instead of different people. 

Originally posted by @Peter Ulstad :

@Kelly Conrad if it makes you feel any better, I've had a unit that's a 5 BR 2BA in South Minneapolis listed since the beginning of October and still haven't found anyone. I think its a tough market right now. Feedback from showings has been that the rent is right and the unit is nice, there just is just not enough demand. 

I just posted earlier today on Facebook Marketplace and have had a few inquiries, but no showings scheduled yet from that listing.  Good luck in getting your place rented!

Market is on fire, but you have a 5 bedroom. Try posting it as a 4 bedroom with an office.  

@Jon Holdman I FINALLY got an application after having my application printed and at the property for folks to fill out! I think you've solved my mystery :) We're having an open house tomorrow for both units (one unit is pending, yay!) with applications there. Hopefully we'll gets lots of viewings and some applications tomorrow :) So THANK YOU for your great advice (along with everyone else)!